PG&E smart thermostat programme hits 100,000

  • September 18, 2023
  • William Payne

PG&E’s SmartAC Smart Thermostat demand response programme has now surpassed 100,000 enrolments. This makes the programme among the largest residential customer demand response programmes in the United States. The programme has become a key way that PG&E, the largest energy utility in northern California, is maintaining the stability of the grid during extreme events to ensure reliability.

SmartAC Smart Thermostat is a voluntary programme for customers who can be flexible with their air conditioning load during periods of high demand when the grid may become stressed. When PG&E anticipates increased energy demand, the Smart Thermostat programme automatically makes changes to enrolled participants’ energy use, shifting AC usage outside of the hours of high energy demand. During these demand response events, enrolled customers maintain control and may opt out of any event by changing the setpoint on their thermostat.

Participants receive an incentive when they enrol with an existing smart thermostat, and significant discounts are also available for those who purchase a pre-enrolled thermostat through PG&E’s SmartAC marketplace.

The programme is designed to manage and mitigate climate change impacts including extreme heat events in California. Last year, the California Independent System Operator, which manages most of the state’s transmission grid, recorded an all-time peak load of 52,061 megawatts on a September day during a 10-day heat wave.

Device enrolments in the Uplight-run SmartAC Smart Thermostat programme have tripled in the last year and load shift per device has increased by 60% on average. More participants combined with more load shift per device significantly increases the level of support for the grid during high demand periods. In a recent event, the programme achieved an estimated 40 MW of load shift, the equivalent of half the capacity of an 80 MW peaker plant and power for 30,000 homes.

“The scale of this programme has become an important resource in managing demand and improving grid reliability for PG&E customers,” said Jake Zigelman, PG&E’s Senior Director of Load Management Solutions. “It’s a win-win for our customers and the grid, providing real incentives to participate while helping stabilise the grid during times of high demand.”

“Grid resiliency is dependent upon strategic partnerships like the one between Uplight and PG&E, enabling consumers to play an active role in decreasing strain on the grid and rewarding them for their efforts,” said Luis D’Acosta, Uplight CEO. “We are proud to contribute to this major milestone and the growing number of enrolments.”